Back behind the plate!

Tomorrow: Discovering a new food “neighborhood,” Yataimura at Shirokiya.

Coming up: A foodie friendship. An Island-only recipe for bread pudding. Fish soup that’ll change your mind. Restaurant ordering: the one unbreakable rule.

March? Was it really March the last time I updated this blog?

Was it really March the last time I felt well enough to update this blog?

Afraid so.

I’ve discovered that blogging is like so many other activities: If your life is off-kilter due to health, relationship issues, work troubles or other high-on-the-stress-scale concerns, you don’t feel like it. You don’t feel like anything!

It’s not that you lack the time. It’s not that you even lack the physical energy, though that may be at an ebb. But you lack interest the way you lack interest in going out to dinner when you have a tummy ache.

Well, I’ve had that kind of “tummy ache” for quite a while. Even after I began to recover, it took a while to tackle other responsibilities and also to recover the joie de vivre that is an essential part of my writing life.

But today, though not fully recovered physically, I am she-who-lives-for-food again. Tried a new recipe, went to breakfast with a friend and checked out the new food court at Shirokiya, all before noon.

But, now, friends, I need help. I haven’t been anywhere or eaten anything in so long, I’m out of touch. I can troll the Internet and read the local restaurant reviews but I prefer word of mouth (or word of Web). Be my Yelp!

What eateries are you excited about? What have you eaten lately that you just had to tell others about? What new products interest you in the grocery store? Who’s selling something new and interesting at the farmer’s market?

The sum of my food-related accomplishments in the past few months has been editing a cookbook for Kapi’olani Community College, “Splash of Aloha,” that will be out later this year and details healthful ideas for using wild and farm-raised Island fish. Since the recipes came from local chefs, who had tested them already, I didn’t get much chance to do any cooking, though I did contribute a few dishes of my own. I made a retro Sweet and Sour Fish Stir-fry that I’m rather pleased with. Remember old-fashioned Canton-American Sweet and Sour dishes, the meat or fish heavily breaded and deep-fried and the sauces dyed in those horrific shades of red and yellow? I couldn’t figure out how so many Chinese people were slim and energetic when they ate like that. (Solution: They don’t eat like that and never did.)

I also spent a day testing recipes with caterer and former restauranteur Kevin “Two Boots” Tate. He hauled a mess of ingredients over to my house and we cooked Cajun/Creole/Southern Fusion from 9:30 to 2:30 one Friday. We were both zonked when it was over. I’ll share a recipe from that session sometime soon. It’s a spicy fish soup so good I couldn’t stop eating it even after I was full and my husband could eat by the bathtub full. And ridiculously simple.

My major food discovery of late has been Toaster Strudel. I got snagged first by the clever little TV ad cartoon characters, kinda retro. Reminded me of when Pop-Tarts first came out. It was like TV dinners or Tang or something, a major breakthrough for the modern housewife! Now your husband and kids don’t even have to put jelly on their toast as they rush out the door! They can just grab a warm Pop Tart! Sadly ensnared, I bought a package of Toaster Strudel which are, indeed, rather strudel like, in that the pastry is not the solid pie-crust of Pop-Tarts but tender layers of faux puff pastry, and the filling of fruit-flavored stuff and creamy stuff isn’t overpowering. They give you these twee little plastic tubes of icing, too.

This is how in denial I am: I threw the outer box away so I wouldn’t have to look at the nutritional analysis. Let’s put it this way: I don’t think the makers of Kashi bars (my other go-to breakfast, at 130 calories a bar) have anything to worry about.

I finally also learned to use my Keurig single-serving coffee pot (a gift that had been gracing the garage). How anyone who likes frequent cups of coffee or tea can live without one, I will never know. For the at-home-alone worker like me, it’s a dream. My one hesitation about the Keurig had been the cost and waste of the little, plastic, coffee- or tea-filled “K-Cups” you have to buy. Then I ran across a new development: An empty cartridge you fill with your own ground coffee, leaf tea or even a crumpled tea bag. I like my tea weak, so thrifty me uses the same tea bag two or three times in the Keurig and I’m supplied with fresh, hot tea all day. That, my dears is how low I’ve fallen.

Won’t you help? Tell me what you’ve been cooking, what foodie TV shows you’ve been watching, what you think of the latest “Top Chef Masters” decision (WRONG, WRONG, WRONG), where you’ve been dining, what recipes you’d like me to find for you.

(The only new place I’ve been lately is Cafe LaTour where the fries speak seductive French to me, the lemongrass bahn mi is good — but would be better with finer-cut, more assertively dressed vegetables — and the Croque Monsieur is decadence personified; one warning, the parking is stupid and if you don’t go early or late, you’ll be circling the old Weyerhauser building until you give up and go to Nico’s).

Tomorrow: Discovering a new food “neighborhood,” Yataimura at Shirokiya.

Coming up: A foodie friendship. An Island-only recipe for bread pudding. Fish soup that’ll change your mind.


  1. Beth

    June 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Very excited to see a blog post from you. Glad to hear you are feeling better!

  2. Vadalia

    June 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    SOOOO glad you are back. Hope you are well along on your path to health. If you have food allergies and/or intolerance, ask me – I have probably researched it and can direct you to products and research. (I can’t eat wheat, gluten, soy, corn, dairy, pork, oats, rye, barley, and most grains.) Over the past 10 years, I have developed a lot of recipes, including the yummiest carrot cake that no one can tell is “special,” and a yummy almond-based salad that tastes and looks like tuna salad. There is life and good food after food allergies and intolerance.

  3. Margare

    June 27, 2011 at 4:51 am

    So glad you are back and your interest in food has revived! That means you’re getting better, horrah! Please continue!

  4. the other Bonnie

    June 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    So much to eat and so little time! I got seduced by those ads for the Magnum ice cream bars, and the introductory price… they are better than the ads. A creamy layer of caramel between two coats of dark chocolate on exquisite vanilla ice cream. I am now banned from buying them–they simply evaporated from my freezer.

  5. Soos

    June 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Welcome back!

    Last week, I had a lovely iced coffee made with wonderful Hamakua coffee beans at Beach Bum Cafe in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Dennis is very knowledgeable about local coffee and brewing. Even my favorite bartender goes there!

    Speaking of which, we were just at my favorite bar – at Hiroshi – for happy hour. We had the asparagus Milanese from the Vino menu, the raw fish (confused over whether it’s currently kampachi or hamachi) carpaccio (2 orders!) and the vintage beef NY steak. Yes, we ate it all in a little over an hour and a half, and washed it down with lychee martinis and Echigo beer. Can you say “yum”?

    The trouble is the above menu items are so good I haven’t been able to order anything new in our last 2 visits.

    Before they opened up, we saw the wine guy, Chuck Furuya, smoking a cigar outside. We talked a bit about wine and cigars and the cigar-smoking husband thought the lanai outside Hiroshi would make the ideal place for a smoker. And can these cigar guys eat and drink!

    I’ve been buying beets from the farmers’ markets when I can find them – last week at St. Clement’s. The beets get julienned and tossed with a vinaigrette, and the tops and stems washed well, chopped and sauteed in olive oil with garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper.

    I made a large batch of curried ratatouille, which freezes well. The leftovers taste great warm and topped with a fried egg over a good toasted bread.

    Looking back at all of that – it’s all comfort food! Happy eating and writing!

  6. Wanda

    June 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I bought Magnums today to celebrate installation of our new fridge/freezer. Tonight, I’ll know!

  7. Patsy

    June 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Aloha! It’s great to see you blogging again. I have missed you. aloha, Patsy

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